On Oct. 28, 2023–almost 140 years after the final Impressionist exhibition in 1886–The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art opened a temporary featured exhibit titled “Monet and His Modern Legacy.” The exhibit is designed for viewers to observe the classic impressionist works by Claude Monet side-by-side with works by American artists who were inspired by his art. In addition to paintings by Monet that are not normally on display in the Kansas City area, the exhibit includes abstract expressionist paintings like “Composition No. 3,” 1959 by Sam Francis and abstractionist paintings by Jean-Paul Riopelle.
There is a game at the exhibit’s entry where visitors can guess whether a painting is by Monet or an abstract expressionist artist based on close-up photographs of the brush strokes. Guests quickly discover that the elements of the two styles are very similar.
Observing Monet’s “Japanese Bridge,” 1918 alongside “Rashoumon,” 1957 by Norman Bluhm, visitors can see how Monet’s revolutionary use of color inspired Bluhm’s art. The exhibit also showcases “Haystack No. 6 and No. 7,” 1969 by Roy Lichtenstein: two pop art recreations of Monet’s “Wheatstacks (End of Summer),” 1980-91.
On display in the final room of the exhibit is one of the panels from Monet’s famous “Water Lilies,” 1915-26. The room is equipped with several comfortable seats where guests can sit and take in the many colors and strokes in this immaculate artwork. Frequent visitors of the museum who have seen this piece several times before can take a moment to observe this KC favorite in a new light and with a new appreciation. Take a moment to look at the individual brush strokes. Single out the greens, next the yellows, then the purples. Finally, step back to see the work as a whole.
I particularly enjoyed this exhibit because it provides a unique viewing experience of Monet’s artwork while highlighting the relationship between his paintings and the works of those he inspired that would otherwise appear unconnected.
“Monet and His Modern Legacy” is open until Mar. 10. Tickets can be purchased either online or in person at the Museum for 22 dollars or 12 dollars for students. These tickets allow entry into both the Monet and “Evelyn Hofer: Eyes on the City” exhibits. As always, guests can access the rest of the art museum for free. After touring the museum, visitors can find exclusive Monet-themed merchandise such as brightly colored shirts and accessories in the museum’s gift shop.